Busy Corner is an apt moniker for this restaurant in small-town Goodfield. Just off I-74, halfway between Peoria and Bloomington, the business is located where three major roads converge, the interstate and Routes 150 and 117.
Built in 1947, the original Busy Corner changed hands a few times before being bought by Randy and Peg Selvey in 1977. Sometime later, they added on to the building to offer more seating. In 2005, they made the decision to further increase capacity to 160 by moving to the restaurant’s current location.
Current proprietor Derek Vollmer started as a dishwasher for the Selveys in 2007 at age 16, later becoming a cook and eventually a manager while studying business and finance. In 2013, he was named general manager, and he completed the purchase of the business earlier this year.
Working alongside him is a team of about 80, including part-time high schoolers and full-time staff members who have worked there 20-plus years. Together, they carry on the family-friendly, country-style establishment their customers have come to know and love. “We have a small-town feel but with a large volume of business,” says Derek.
A big part of Busy Corner’s success is its menu which features a variety of American cuisine favorites. “The menu has remained similar through the years, with some twists but the same style,” says Derek.
Popular menu items include fried chicken, marinated ribeye, ribs, catfish, beef and noodles, and the homemade tenderloin, which Derek says is their top-selling single item. The restaurant also features regular lunch, dinner and weekend specials.
For breakfast, you can enjoy the “Skillet Corner” (a bed of golden hash browns topped with choice of two eggs, sausage, ham, veggies or western toppings covered in choice of sausage gravy, cheese sauce or both and served with toast), Eggs Benedict, biscuits and gravy, omelets, pancakes, waffles, corned beef hash, and an oldie but a goodie—homemade cornmeal mush.
The lunch and dinner menu includes appetizers, soups and salads, as well as country fried steak, burgers, sandwiches and seafood. For those looking for something different, there is also the “Smothered Chicken” (a 7-ounce marinated chicken breast covered with grilled mushrooms, onions and green peppers, topped with cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses). Simpler options for children can be found on the kids’ menu.
What Busy Corner is really known for, however, is pie (although other desserts can be ordered as well, like cheesecake or a root beer float). Baked pies include apple cinnamon, apple pecan, blackberry, blueberry, cherry, caramel apple, peach, pecan, pumpkin, raisin, rhubarb, red raspberry, blueberry, triple berry and Toll house.
If those flavors aren’t enough, there is an extensive list of cream pies to choose from: Andes mint, banana cream, coconut cream, chocolate cream, chocolate French silk, chocolate peanut butter bliss, chocolate ribbon, chocolate silk pecan, Door County cherry, Grasshopper, lemon meringue, lemon chiffon, mocha silk, peaches and cream, peanut butter cup, peanut butter Oreo, pumpkin ribbon, raspberry ribbon, blueberry ribbon, strawberry cream, Snicker’s pie, toffee Heath crunch and Turtle pie, among others.
Derek says the number one seller is coconut cream, followed closely by French silk, Toll House, triple berry and apple. While Busy Corner doesn’t offer catering, their pies are often purchased for weddings and fundraisers.
The restaurant went to curbside pickup only in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That Memorial Day weekend, he and his staff put up tables and chairs in the parking lot. Derek says that customers told him it was one of the best outdoor setups they had seen. The area was decorated with hay bales and flowers and umbrellas were added to the tables for the comfort of their diners. “It was a good opportunity for us to change and do what we needed to do,” he says.
They still offer curbside, he says, though most people are coming back in at this point. “But if there’s a mom in the car with kids,” he adds, “we’re happy to run food out.”
The family restaurant hosts a little bit older crowd, but he says they get all ages, including businesspeople from Bloomington and Peoria during the work week—“Everybody from everywhere,” Derek says. He recently added a patio which seats an additional 40 to further accommodate the amount of interstate traffic and their regulars. “It’s a great spot,” he says.
Derek has ideas for expansion in the future, perhaps catering or expanding the business’ physical footprint. “Right now, we’re just trying to keep up,” he laughs. When asked, Derek’s advice for fellow restaurant owners is simple: “Stay open to change; over the last year those willing to change with a positive attitude are thriving.”